The American Payroll Association (APA) is made up of more than 20,000 payroll professionals working in all types of organizations as payroll directors, managers, supervisors, and specialists. At our annual Congress, about 2,000 of them attend workshops, roundtables, and general sessions devoted to the laws and regulations governing how and how much employees are paid. Much of their work depends on understanding how these laws and regulations are to be applied so that more than 140 million workers in the U.S. are paid correctly and on time.

Doing their job correctly is vitally important to the U.S. economy, as nearly 72% of the revenue that flowed into the U.S. Treasury in FY 2011 – over $1.7 trillion – was deposited by employers through the withholding and payment of federal income, social security, Medicare, federal unemployment, and railroad retirement taxes. At the APA Congress, many of the nearly 200 workshops are presented by representatives of federal government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Labor, and Department of Homeland Security. Without their involvement, our members would have a much more difficult time performing what is probably the most regulated task in American business – paying employees.

At one of our smaller conferences, the Capital Summit, federal agency employees make up more than 75% of the speakers and they represent an even broader array of agencies than at our Congress. This year they included the Census Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in addition to those mentioned earlier. The information these speakers provide at all our meetings, as well as the interaction that takes place during the face-to-face networking opportunities we provide outside the classroom, significantly increases the level of compliance among all our members and the payroll industry in general, which in turn helps the federal government run more efficiently when it does not have to spend time ferreting out noncompliance.

Limiting the attendance of federal government employees at APA meetings would be a perfect example of an idea that is pennywise and pound foolish. While some travel expenses would be saved in the short term, the resulting negative effect on compliance in the areas of taxation, minimum wage and overtime law, worker misclassification, child support withholding, employment eligibility verification, and many others would cost the government much, much more.